How Hotels can Harness Data to Provide a Personalized Guest Experience
The most number-driven businesses emerge into large, global conglomerates only when built on strong, trust-bound and long-lasting relationships with their customers. Today, knowing each customer at a granular level is the winning agent for any business.
Creating ‘personalized experiences’ is key to develop a relationship with your customer. The hospitality industry deals with highly fragmented customer segments. To build genuine and long-term relationships with each one of them is a business imperative, and can only be fulfilled with the help of personalization. According to an IBM report, 70% of hotel guests report having a positive experience with personalization.
Personalization not only gives guests a highly unique experience but also provides hoteliers with valuable returns. Personalization enables you to spend time, money and resources only on those aspects of the experience that matter to your customer. It allows you to stay away from a generalized treatment. Personalization is a strategy that’s evolving beyond a short-term trend and into an established marketing approach, says Gartner.
The Key To Personalization
The polite hotel staff on-ground, menu cards, courteous interactions, and exclusive offerings are already a part of the industry norm. Some hotels also drop personalized notes after a round of housekeeping, provide a handwritten note, or an exclusive tour itenary, or a special invite to an event. While these gestures keep customers happy, they can be non-scalable and the personalization is non-transferable among employees.
Protocols, processes, data standards, and standardization of services enable scalability and transferability of personalized interactions. Some aspects, therefore enable the hotel management and its team to interact with each guest in the exact way, as desired by the customer. Customer Data is central to this implementation.
Personalization begins with accurate, precise and relevant data. However, getting such data is a challenge. Successful hotel chains across the globe rely on building standards that collect data seamlessly across multiple sources. These standards are supported by a combination of technologies that collect, store, process, and provide insights using such data.
The Vice President of Hyatt Hotels says in the IBM report, “Hyatt’s goal is to provide a personalized experience for each guest. Automated solutions are used for functions that free up staff to spend more time with guests. It’s a matter of having the right tools in place to enable our staff members to give a personalized experience to our guests. This liberates them from processes the technology can handle to spend more time with the guests.” , acknowledging the importance of automated solutions in the personalization strategy.
Orchestrating the right set of technologies would help hotels in capturing data across all channels and touchpoints effortlessly. Integrated technologies store each customer’s data in a unique way to suit their experience journey.
A Unique Combination
Apart from standards and technologies, equipping the staff with observations that can help them create opportunities to personalize a customer experience, also matters. Using the information and insights provided by the technology, the hotel team can support further intelligent personalization that adds a human touch. This could relate to an unrecorded behavior or intuitive recommendation that a staff member has to offer.
Apart from this, the growing devices that are installed as wearables, voice assistants, internet routers, or personal smartphones are used to capture customer data that is highly unpredictable. This is why hotels are also transforming to be IoT friendly. Hotels also capture data from HVAC systems, property management systems, CRMs and others.
Capture Your Customers’ Data
While data capturing is a critical aspect of personalized marketing, it is equally important to remain non-intrusive. Most hoteliers who have adopted the personalization route use forms, surveys, menu records, order records, archived itineraries, room reservation information, in-room consumption, WiFi analytics, spa usage, gym usage, information of other accompanied guests, in-app updates, text messages, and so on to both collect, and personalize end customer experience.
Leverage Captured Data to Deliver a Tailored Experience
Accurate, precise, and relevant data can help you drive a promotion to sale, or upsell to an existing customer, or anticipate your guest’s needs ahead of time. Thinking ahead of your customer about what he or she wants is mastered only with personalized data. Smart Hotels are deploying Predictive Analytics to tailor customer experiences by using both archived and real-time data. Here are few ways that hotels can leverage data to create a personalized experience:
Intelligent Chatbots are equipped with the most asked and most necessary responses that guests look for. And these AI agents are made available 24×7 without hurting the brand equity of the hotel. The booking process is seamlessly executed with simple steps and questions. Confirmation and follow-on are also fulfilled by the chatbot integrated to the enterprise data and CRM.
Once a guest books a room or tickets using the brand’s interface, they are supported by travel and touring itineraries. This should be personalized for each guest. Previous data and other preferences stated by the guest would be used to automate this process and get this delivered upon the guest’s arrival.
Suggesting Music & Books
Consumption of Music and books are extremely personal choices. These can be initiated by the guest while sharing preference and providing them more number of choices to consume the same. This could be initiated with a tablet device or asked for during check-in or booking.
Uninterrupted Feedback Systems
Feedback process can be intrusive if done wrong. Encourage guests to provide response at the moment of consumption through their mobile devices. It does not have to wait until the end of the stay or meal.
Temperature and room settings
The different temperature and room settings are captured by the HVAC systems and passed on to the property management system. This information is utilized as a benchmark for the guest when they revisit the property.
All these aspects can be mapped back to the personalized customer journey that is drafted to develop actions and communication.
What an ideal personalized guest journey would look like?
It’s important to map the customer journey to personalize a guest’s experience. McKinsey found that customer journeys are 30% to 40% more predictive of customer satisfaction and churn. Their research team also recommends a step-by-step process to get started by mapping the guest journey.
- Develop a hypothesis about customer outcomes that matter.
- Link what customers say to what they do.
- Analyze the historical performance of real customer cohorts.
- Look at the trend to take a forward-looking view.
- Track outcomes.
To get into the details, you may have to evaluate each of the following segments with the above mentioned process.
- Customized Room Options
- Multi-Channel Self Service
- Personalized Shopping
- Post-stay Support
- Journey Integration
- Personalized Service and Support
Personalize Customer Experience using a Hospitality Guest Engagement Solution
Personalizing experience would include minute details such as when the guest has left the room, so that the housekeeping team does not have to look for DND signs or ring a bell. It also allows the team to know what goodies have been consumed by the guest and which of those have to be replenished. More than this it also lets the restaurant, gym, spa, and the reception team proactively engage with the guest, by suggesting possible preference based on the past usage data.
To collect and enable customer data, we have created a solution: SAMMY. It’s a hospitality guest engagement platform to improve guest experience, increase revenue per customer, and decrease operational costs. It not only stores critical information about each guest, but sends notifications via different channels to the guest as well as your manager and the supporting team. SAMMY integrates with WiFi and other systems within your hotel to fulfill integrated goals in enhancing a guest’s experience.
Learn how we can help your hotel create unique guest experiences. Schedule a free consultation with us now.